portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

human & civil rights | police / legal

Another Example of Racial Profiling

Just after reading the front page of the Oregonian to see another example of continued racial profiling in Oregon, days later, my son and I became victims too.
I am a 63- year mother, tax paying citizen, and property owner who can now say my family and I can be added to the growing list of racial profiling victims in Portland, OR. On the evening of June 11, 2006 I was at my home doing laundry, and later heard the cries of my son screaming to me that the police are after him. As I emerged from my home, saw 10 police officers, my 18-year old son on his knees, in a controlled position, and a police officer standing over him pointing a taser gun at him, and telling him he would be shot if he moved, I thought I was seeing a movie. Once I realized it was real, imagine my fear and terror to see and hear this, when I knew my son was a good kid, had never been arrested, and was not a criminal or drug user. He is the nicest, well-mannered kid you could ever meet. I was shocked to see him being treated this way. The entire incident occurred because the police followed, or as the police claim chased my son from NE Sumner to NE Emerson and Garfield, after they claim he ran three stop signs- which he did not. It is baffling to me why he was not stopped sooner, instead of 8 blocks later, and why the police siren was not turned on to signal him to stop. My son drives a 1978 Monte Carlo, which is commonly associated with a gang member car- I suspect this is why he was followed. This car belonged to my deceased mother, and I gave the car to him as a gift.

At this time I became upset and began to approach Officer Stradley, badge #16129, who was standing over my son to question why are you doing this. I admit I was not calm, I was upset and screaming why are you doing this to him? I could not believe what I was seeing, and I was concerned about protecting my son. Then Officer Frashour, badge #40927 who was standing by Officer Stradley grabbed my arm, twisted it, and pulled it behind my back, told me I was out of control,was under arrest and going to jail. I told him you can't take me to jail, I haven't done anything. Officer Stradley then told me my son would be arrested for running three stop signs, and attempting to allude a police officer. How can you allude a police officer when they are merely following you. When the police officer realized that my son was pulling into my driveway, that's when the police lights/ sirens came on. I am told this makes it difficult for any type of search/ arrest to occur once you are on private property or my son had entered the home. Officer Stradley said the reason he followed/ chased my son was because he assumed he had drugs on him. When the car was searched(without permission),no drugs were found. I was later cited for interence with a police investigation, which I later found out is an actual arrest. At 63-years old, I am being arrested when all I was trying to prevent was another incident of racial profiling against an African-American male?

My arm began to throb so I went to Emergency, where I was treated for shoulder and arm strain. My son's vehicle that was parked 3/4 of the way in my driveway, and the rest on the sidewalk was towed over 50 miles to St. Helens, and a $500 impound fee was imposed. The officer found out that I was a licensed caregiver, and the following day this was reported to my licenser. I was questioned and interrogated in three different investigations by my licenser, and made to feel as if I had done something wrong. I am now being sanctioned because I was told I did not report it right away. My son was forced to complete a criminal history check, and I am now being told he is not allowed anywhere near my home. Thankfully, he does not live with me, and if I can muster up the strength, I will fight this.

During the exhange of heated words between Officer Frashour, and me, I told him I have never had a police officer put his hands on me, to which he replied- "I consider that an honor". My two grandsons, ages 10 and 16 who witnessed this entire incident, and who were crying and asking the Officers, why are you arresting him, he didn't do anything, were later told by a female officer, "I hope you learn from us and not your grandmother". She had no right to say that, and I would never want my grandsons to learn that this is how you treat innocent people. When I appeared in commnuity court as requested by the citation, the arrest was uphled, and I was cited $50 because my cell phone rang in court. I had forgotten it was on, and I was not told that cell phones should be turned off- to prevent further stress, I paid the fine the same day.

Since this incident, my son and I have felt like we are guilty of doing something wrong. In part, because of incidents that have occurred after this, but moreso because we have prided ourselves on doing what is right and fair. Incidents like this don't happen to us, they happen to those bad people who commit murder, sell drugs, and rob and steal. We are none of those kinds of people, but we were, and still are being treated like we are. I am grateful that the police are here to protect and serve, and would not have had a problem before asking for their help- now I'm not so sure...

phone: phone: 503.380.8710

i feel ya 07.Jul.2006 23:16

blackineugene

i cry... i'm 47, have two kids here in eugene, 24 and 22. makes me sick to my stomach. i am a prison abolitionist. i have NO faith in this shitsem whatsoever. i only wish i knew what to tell you. think about contacting local law students at universities and colleges (especially of color)! they see whatz happening and can probably help you at least to some degree.

very fucked up 08.Jul.2006 01:49

arnie

When I read stories like this, I can better understand the origins of/need for organizations like the Black Panthers.

Maybe if people such as yourself who suffer incidents like this had a way to report these things to a community organization right away, that could apply immediate grassroots political pressure on the legal and political systems, we could put the fear of God back into the pigs. God knows they're not so cavalier about pulling shit like this on white people.

I think it's a shame that you were made to feel alone in court against this fucked up system, when there are plenty of people out there who disagree with this bullshit and would gladly stand with you, if only they had known about your case in advance. And it's even more of a shame that it takes someone getting murdered outright, like Fouad Kaady, to actually mobilize people.

Consider Filing A Complaint 08.Jul.2006 08:21

Sixpack wabc@mutualaid.org

Consider filing a complaint with the Independant Police Review. You could practicalt pretty much says it all. Also, you might try emailing Alejandro Queral at the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center << aqueral@nwcrc.org>> for some more suggestions. Whatever you do, I urge you not to just count your losses and let it go---this behavior from police only gets worser. Take it from my experiences as an assistant to persons who want to file complaints, but don't know how. It only gets better when you challenge them and defend yourself and your son.


drawing weapons on peaceful, unarmed citizens 08.Jul.2006 13:20

Bertrand

What's really appalling about the episode you describe is that the police consider themselves entitled to respond to any non-compliance with their wishes with armed force. That this is routine and part of their mindset, as opposed to aberrant, is quite clear from the statements they themselves make about such incidents. Can this really be sanctioned by official policy? If so, that policy needs drastic revision. Even in the case of "less-lethal-weapons," rules of engagement should mandate that they be used only against those who are forcefully resisting law enforcement.

This thuggish form of incivility obviously defies common sense and represents a clear and present danger to all parties. We the public must put a stop to this at once.

It should be common sense that escalating a confrontation with armed force for no good reason, merely to coerce immediate compliance, is bad and unprofessional conduct. But because heavily armed police don't always seem to understand the motivation for such scruples, more elaboration is obviously required.

Obviously, when weaponry is introduced into a previously nonviolent situation, the danger of someone getting hurt is greatly increased, if only due to the very real probability of accidental discharge of the weapon. But, even assuming that were not the case, can you think of any other reasons why cops should not immediately escalate to the use of weaponry when they don't receive instant compliance with their commands?

Evidently, many police cannot. Perhaps they reason that they can get their job done quicker that way. They can always entertain a vague fantasy that any sign of noncompliance from someone they encounter on the streets somehow represents a "potential danger" to their own safety, via some kind of "slippery slope" line of reasoning. Afterall, isn't someone who doesn't immediately comply with their every order more statistically likely to also fall into the category of someone who might actually attack them? Etc etc.

However, an elementary consideration of human psychology shows why this approach to law enforcement is disastrous to society. People who are subjected to force and coercion may initially comply more quickly. But eventually, they will rightfully interpret this repeated, unreasonable coercion as a form of humiliation. And both common sense and modern studies in human psychology support the view that there is no better way to generate violent reactions in human beings than repeated instances of humiliation. In fact, a whole field of social psychology has grown up around this subject, attesting to its importance (see, for example,  http://www.humiliationstudies.org/).

Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that anyone who is authorized to carry weaponry for purposes of law enforcement exercise tremendous restraint, and be totally disciplined about drawing their weapons. It is also totally imperative that they be prohibited from doing so unless and until a suspect presents an immediate threat to their own safety or that of others.

dealing with those who protect and serve 08.Jul.2006 15:08

st

I might be able to understand why someone might blow through stop signs being pursued by police cars in the night. Recently, I had to make a late night, 1:30am stop to the 24hr grocery store for stuff for breakfast later in the morning.

Just live 3/4 mile away, and took my usual route, cutting through a little neighborhood, that is dark and quiet. Shortly after I turn into the neighborhood from the busier main street, extremely bright lights are shining into my eyes from the side mirrors. The reflected light was so bright, it was painful for me to look into the mirrors to try and identify what the exact source of the light was.

I've had a defective, recalled tailight problem for a long time, that I've tried to fix repeatedly without lasting results. It wasn't working, so I knew that might explain the bright lights, but I wasn't sure. I could just barely see flashing red and blue lights around the bright white light, but thought that they might belong to a vehicle behind the one with the bright lights reflected in my sideviews.

So, I slowed, but kept on driving for a couple blocks. The light was so bright, it was actually kind of hard to drive looking straight ahead. Since the bright light and the red and blues didn't stop, I figured out it must have been a cop after my defective tailight.

I stopped, and waited there, with the bright lights still reflected in my face from the sideviews, since the officer declined to turn them down.

Finally he comes to my door. Knowing what jerks these people can be, I've already got my license, registration, and insurance statement out, with my hands visible, so there isn't that issue to deal with.

As he gets to my door, in part, because I'm a white guy, and older, and know this often gives you more lattitude to do so, I outright told him, I was annoyed, irritated, and uncomfortable because his lights were shining painfully in my face.

He's a younger guy. He wouldn't turn the lights down: "that's not happening...they're for my safety". Great. I could tell the cop was typically afraid of what he might find in the car at 1:30 in the morning, so from their perspective, all means are justified. I had to sit there in my car for 10-15 minutes while he diddled with his computer to run the details on a completely clean vehicle and operator. If I'd had anything on the vehicle or my record, guaranteed, I would have been there much longer.

I read the lady's article about her and her son's experience. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions, not to suggest she isn't being completely truthful. From what she's written, it's hard to know exactly what the kid did to make the police want to create such an issue out of this deal. But depending on the circumstances, and based on my own experience, the kid might not even have been sure exactly who was following him.

Sounds like the kid didn't have any witness. He could just have been making california stops, but the cops seeing the type of car and the profile fitting driver, wanted to stop him and needing to have a premise for stopping him, this fit.

The thing about the no sirens is familiar, as some years back, I also had another experience with cops following me with lights on but no siren. I've no idea why they didn't turn it on, and didn't think to ask them at the time. I hate to say it's a trick they use, but sounds like it.

Cops operate with a seige mentality. What they perceive and experience is not exactly reality,at least as you and I experience it. This comes in handy if the danger really exists, but when its non-existent, it's mostly just a danger to the subject, or at the least, a pain in the ass.

I regret that it's far tougher for a person of color when they have to deal with the cops, but it's hard to anticipate any change in the situation in the forseeable future. I make a point of keeping my head low, particulary in regard to cops. The tailight was something I should have taken care of long ago. I can just imagine, if I'd been the same color as that kid, driving his 78 Monte Carlo, in my case, with a tailight out, on the night I went to the grocery store, the same thing happened to him would probably have happened to me.

Thank you for sharing this. 08.Jul.2006 19:31

witness for you

I heard this story from the "inside." And it was just as this woman says it was. The sad thing is, people of color are killed in exchanges like this all the time, in this city and others, and the police do just what they did in this case -- they demonize the victim and make the victim's family feel lonely, crazy, discredited, and wrong. In this case, the victim was "merely" harassed and abused, but not killed. Instead, he was hounded, followed, terrorized, and arrested. And so was his mother.

I cannot give the details of how or why I know what happened here, except to say that I have firsthand knowledge of it from the job that I do. And I can verify, for a fact, that officer Stradley, upon discovering that this woman would not be so easily cowed, went on to do his damndest to cover up his indiscretion and to cause this family hardship. The victim's car was impounded, and rather than towing it a few blocks to the N Portland impound yard, it was purposefully towed many miles away, to another county, to cause increased logistical and financial hardship for this family. In addition, Officer Stradley called all around the city, making "inquiries" and planting innuendos about the victim and his mother. Rumor had it, and the author apparently confirms it here, that he even tried to take this woman's livlihood from her by discrediting her with the licensing agency that oversees her home-based business. I'm sure he can pat himself on the back. Job well done. It happens all the time. The police are never wrong. Right?

Officer Frashour, a blunter insturment to be sure, was more "hands on" in his approach, but less devious after. He prided himself that he beat up a 63 year old woman -- the sicko -- but at least he was too stupid to move on to the kind of nefarious harassment that Stradley mounted. Apparently, he found this woman too "uppity" for his tastes. Like James Jahar Perez, who dared to drive a car that was nicer than the Portland police felt was his due, this woman and her family suffered the brunt of the out-of-control abuse of power that runs rampant and random through the Portland police bureau. At least this time, they survived and can tell the tale.

Paula, thank you for being brave enough to tell this story. I believe you, and I support you. It isn't you who is in the wrong, it's the system. And the police officers who assaulted you. May you have the last laugh, one way or another.

Wasn't james perez driving a monte carlo? 08.Jul.2006 19:45

anti-ppb

As I recall, the officer who shot and killed Mr. Perez said later, in the public inquest, that the reason he had targeted Mr. Perez in the first place was that "the car he was driving seemed too nice for that neighborhood." Wasn't that a monte carlo? Is it a crime to be black and driving a Monte carlo in North Portland?

Paula, I urge you to contact the Northwest Constitutional Rights Center, if you haven't already. Beating up a little old lady and harassing her son for no reason sounds like a civil rights violation to me. And any sanction you received from this also sounds like harassment. Unbelievable.

copwatch 08.Jul.2006 23:05

cassius

if folks are interested in finding out some ways to take a measure of power back into the community, try hooking up w/the folks from Rose City Copwatch (rosecitycopwatch.org i think). they do some "know your rights" and "how to copwatch" trainings. they also organize patrols to observe police stops and you'd be surprised how quick the cops change their act when there's a camera on 'em.

keep on fight

winds of change lie with you 09.Jul.2006 00:49

st

"witness for you": If you aren't a potential whistle-blower, you sound as though you're so close to fitting that description, it would be a shame not to pop a big surprize like that on the PPB in the form of a major lawsuit. I don't know why you can't go public and be contender in a lawsuit. The reasons could be many. The need is great though, and if you and whoever could carefully think over the possibility of coming forward, it might be of great benefit to the community.

If these cops have overstepped the boundaries of propriety, nothing could be better than to make them scramble to either come clean or get caught lying in cheating like indications suggested they did at the post Kendra Jackson rendezvous at the restraunt down the street the night of her death.

Unbelievable. 09.Jul.2006 12:28

Jane

Paula, thank you for having the courage to tell this tale. This, alas, is a story that is quietly and not so quietly reapeated all through this city, every day. Most people are afraid or intimidated into not saying anything. But we all feel it. Often, when the police abuse or mistreat us, we are afraid to say anything because we don't think anyone will believe us, or we feel shame that the police would treat us like this. Somewhere inside, we feel like if the police (whom we have always been taught are the "good guys") have treated us like this, then we must have done something wrong. So we don't want anyone to know about it. Other times, we are afraid that they will come back, and do more, since they know where we live and they have all the power. The guns, the law, even the mainstream media are all on their side. What can we do?

We can do what you have done. We can stand up to the bastards. We can refuse to be silent, can refuse to allow them to treat our sons and daughters like that, can tell this story again and again and again, until we are heard.

As for the officer who told you he considers it "an honor" to have beaten up a 63 year old woman, and the officer who actually had the nerve to tell your grandchildren that the pigs make a better example than you do? That's classic. Just, fucking, classic. The hubris. The fucking nerve. Pardon my language, but the fucking nerve.

I have heard this story again and again, too. The police always seem to have some self-righteous, smarmy, self-congratulatory thing to say like that -- meant to both disrespect their victims and to lift their figurative legs, as it were. Yes, as a dog might piss on a fire hydrant to assert its imagined power and dominance, so they weild language like that at you, knowing that they have guns and laws to prevent you from giving them what they deserve for being so smug. They are deliberately trying to escalate the situation, so that they can show themselves how very, very powerful and dominant they are. It's a sick psychological game they play with their victims, trying to gain the prowess they know they do not really have -- would never have without our permission to have it. Should we, as a society, finally decide that their predations are not worth it, all we need do is take back the legitimacy we have foolishly given those shiny metal badges. After all, we have the same access to the same weapons, the only difference between us and them is a system of words and shared illusions that we have created together, that offer them an advantage over the rest of us. Maybe it's time to re-think all of that.

In any event, be strong, Paula. You are a much better example to your children and grandchildren than any psycho punk in a police uniform who likes to threaten people with a taser. They are thugs and murderers, and we all know that. They are deluding only themselves. You stood up for your son, and who knows what might have happened to him if you had not. Quite possibly, you saved his life. You put them on notice that there were witnesses, you alerted the neighborhood with your screams, and you threw them off their quarry. Remember that. It does not matter what the police say, or even what the judge says. The truth is, you are the one who was stronger here, and you are the one who is right.

I support you, Paula.

Thank you for your Comments 10.Jul.2006 15:11

Paula

Thank you all for your comments, and thank you for the references of organizations to contact for assistance. I can't tell you how difficult this has been, and because of my age, I have to admitt, I don't know if I'm up for the fight. I can say that after reading your words of support, it gives me the courage to keep fighting. I just want to say I am being truthful about everything that I mention is my post, and am so thankful to the poster who verified my story... I know who you are, and I'll stay in touch. God Bless.

Thank you, Paula 11.Jul.2006 09:21

a friend

Please keep us posted by writing more articles as you fight this out. Let us know if/when you need someone to stand by your side, and I, for one, will be there. I know this kind of struggle does take a lot out of a person. It's very hard to fight such a battle, feeling alone and against such an abusive and powerful adversary, especially when "the public" is supposed to believe that the system is always right. If you can't do it, I understand. But if you can, don't be afraid to reach out. You are not alone. There are those of us out here who will stand with you. I think we have all had more than enough of this kind of abuse. (I completely believe you, because I have seen this same scenerio more than once myself.)

Precient Commander and IPR now KNOWS THIS. 11.Jul.2006 15:29

OBSERVER

Tuesday July 11th,2006
Laurie Stewart of the Independant Police Review (located on the 3rd floor of City Hall in Downtown Portland, has been made aware of your Posting as well as Commander Bret Smith of the Northeast Precient.
They need you to pursue them with the actual request,complaint form,which you should zerox before you let go of it,(copy for your records and lawyer.)save all recipts etc too.

Additionally,You Paula, need to at the very least go in and file an IPR complaint,even if you are pursuing an attorney.because it will start an investigation into the behavior of the Officers.

Additionally, Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch www.copwatch.org should be made aware of this.
He is the real copwatch person,as opposed to the Rose City Copwatch,whom put out all the wanted posters of Officer Scotty and the gang during the Kendra James events.

And since Mayor Potter is the Police commissioner,he really needs to have this brought to his attention ASAP by you.
The Citizen Review Board Meetings you may attend each month to get a feel for how Blacks resovle officer involved violence and force tickets.
This board was demanded by us citizens after the Officer involved Killings of James and Perez.
This is a Review Board independant of the City,and Dan Handleman tapes each one in person.And he refers questions to the Board during citizen imput time,as can any citizen.You may ask them anything. Its a learning experince, and you will see, that something came of all the hard work of Marchers and citizens that demanded change. Unfortunetly, People seem to not be aware that it has been around since 3 years ago and is on its second set of Board Members.
He asks them and teaches them the right way to run the Board.

After all the Public hearings latly on Police Profiling,you'd think they'd (PPB)be alot more sensitive ...Guess someone one forgot to mention it to them,to remember what they just attended.
Its not like this hasnt been going on for the last 50 years....

Goodluck Paula.

OBSERVER- COMMANDER AND IPR KNOW 12.Jul.2006 09:04

Paula

Thank you for the resource, and for letting the Commander and IPR know. I did attempt to file a complaint at the NE Precient, but after waiting an extended period of time, and having no one acknowledge this, I left. Now that I have names to reference, I will follow up. I did attend the community meeting that was held last month, and incidentally, my comments made at the meeting were aired on the late evening news.

You mention that I should contact Dan Handelman of Copwatch. I went to the website, and noticed it's a forum like this to post comments; is there a way to directly email or contact him? Your suggestions would be helpful on any of this stuff. I am not computer or email savvy, but can get assistance if told specifics. Thanks again for everything, and I will call to arrange a meeting with Mayor Potter, ASAP!

iprb? 12.Jul.2006 11:55

rccw supporter

I wasn't aware that the iprb had any authority whatsoever to discipline police officers -- only 'recommend' that the police's own internal review board investigate the incident. Doesn't sound so promising to me. Isn't that why almost the entire board resigned a few years ago?

You wrote: "He is the real copwatch person,as opposed to the Rose City Copwatch,whom put out all the wanted posters of Officer Scotty and the gang during the Kendra James events"

Smirk. OK, Rose City Copwatch isn't 'real'? You are wrong. They've put in thousands of hours of work out of the public eye since the poster campaign, and done over a dozen trainings in the past year alone to spread the ethic of copwatching in our city and to make more people aware of their rights: www.rosecitycopwatch.org

Mostly I'm concerned that the IPRB process would be very unfulfilling to the victims of the police attack. Until we win an independant police review board that actually has control over the police -- or eliminate the police entirely -- maybe pursuing a civil case against the police is the best course of action. But you would have to talk to a lawyer about that....

i totally understand 12.Jul.2006 13:58

heidi huckleberryl

i have a mixed family ... me french canadian(indian heritage)... husband and step-kids which i cannot have my own... found out when i was 24 now 32.... my family is african american as well. my step son has experienced some of the same magnitude of things. the charges were of a sexual nature.... this happend when he was 15 1/2 and the case is still in the air... becouse he is not cognitivley there to defend himself ro so they say.........we need to get together and demand change from the opressors as rosa parks says.

it goes beyond race 31.Jul.2006 12:15

dee dee@newsregister.com

Recently I have seen an increase in the number of people who are "stoped" for no real apparent reason. Frequently the office blames his actions on a tail light issue or some other problem. But mainly what seems to be the cause is that the persons being stopped are poor. Their cars are old, dented or banged up. I suspect the police are looking for people who are driving suspended or without insurance. For someone hwo is poor, being able to work means beinga ble to support their families, but there is not always enough money for car insurance or to get a DL reinstated.

I am a reporter interested in doing an article on this issue. If you have story to tell, email me at  dee@newsregister.com